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Fri, Oct. 18

Howard: What the heck is arthritis anyway?
My Point

To make a long story short I went to the doctor the other day to see why my right hip has been bothering me so much lately. After a couple months of being two steps short of reaching balls on the court and a toothache pain that hurts more when I’m sitting than standing, it became more than I wanted to endure any longer.

When the doctor and student nurse practitioner came in they took my vitals, asked me a bunch of questions and then proceeded to see if they could produce some extra pain by pushing hard on the side of my hip to see if it might be bursitis, nope; then manipulating my right leg up down, sideways and somewhat stretched in all those directions, asking if that hurt, “Yep.”

They mentioned that many tennis players are not real limber and I fell under that category, and they were very correct. I’ve unfortunately never been much of a stretch kind of person.

I told them that in December I had pulled a lower left butt muscle in a tournament and a few weeks later fell over a basket of balls onto my right hip pretty hard.

None-the-less I just kept on playing in the tournament with an ace bandage cinched tight, and after the fall shook it off and kept on with my normal teaching schedule. That’s what guys do.

But the past 6 weeks I’d especially noticed I couldn’t move to my right very quickly and with a bit of pain that seemed to be increasing. When sitting or driving the threshold of ache was much increased, thus the reluctant doctor’s appointment.

So they had me get an X-ray to see if I might have cracked or broken something when I fell.

A couple days later they called and said, nothing broken - it looks like arthritis.

Now I’ve heard that term “arthritis” for years, something that affects mainly older people. It gets in their joints and causes inflammation and pain. But I really didn’t know what causes it, what it looks like and how you get rid of or manage it.

So, here’s the medical definition:

The definition of arthritis is an inflammatory condition of a joint in the body that can cause pain, swelling or stiffness.

In my reading it goes on to say it’s not curable, but can be managed in a multitude of ways, or until it reaches a point of needing joint replacement or surgery of sorts.

I found out that there are some no-no’s and things that help when you have hip pain.

-To switch from high impact activities to low. (Unfortunately that doesn’t work for me in my line of work.)

-To bend from the knees instead of from the hips. Use help aides to put on socks and shoes. *After warming up gently, don’t over-stretch.

-Don’t stay in one position for too long.

-Rest, lose some weight if needed, diet, heat or cold compress, acupuncture, simple stretches, hydrotherapy, massage, injections, ibuprofen, naproxen and/or acetaminophen are all things that could or should be given consideration depending on the hip pain you’re experiencing to help find relief.

So, no cure, but plenty of possible effective treatments to help manage this chronic condition. Treatments for this type of damage can be conservative or invasive. Many people find different levels of relief with medication, exercise, and supplements.

And around it all, it’s important to find ways to keep pressure off your hip to help reduce the pain and inflammation until you reach the point of needing surgery.

It all sounds rather depressing for a guy who really like to compete. UGH!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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